Story & photos by James Walker, Jr., Copyright 2010
Iconic Smooth Jazz saxophonist Dave Koz graced the Chicago Theater Stage for his 13th annual Holiday Concert on December 4th before a sold out audience. Koz was accompanied by a few of his friends: saxophonist Candy Dulfer, guitarist Jonathan Butler, and Chicago's own keyboardist/trombonist Brian Culbertson.
This program was well done with Koz opening the set followed by initial numbers by each of his guests. Throughout this two and one half hour concert, each alternated between holiday and smooth jazz numbers while accompanying one another.
Often during the evening, Butler demonstrated his ability to also vocalize while assisting his colleagues on such selections like "Silver Bells," "The Christmas Song," "Have Yourself a Merry Christmas," "Sweet Baby Jesus" and "Oh Holy Night." The latter song was a highlight which resulted in a well deserved standing ovation.
Other first half highlights included a Dave Stewart composition performed by Koz and guitarist Randy Jacobs; Culbertson's "Always Remember" with Koz and Dulfer from his Bringing Back The Funk CD and Butler's "Little Drummer Boy" with the 'beat box' while encouraging the audience to "sing-a-long."
Culbertson opened the 2nd set with "Funky Rudolph." Brian is a noted "Funkster" and his arrangement of this traditional Christmas number was certainly a crowd pleaser. It was during this segment that time was taken by each to speak personally about their fond memories of Christmas.
The lovely Dulfer's sassy version of "Santa Baby" also demonstrated her ability to use her vocal instrument as well as the sax. This was particularly well received by the gentlemen in the audience.
Koz made this concert inclusive with his rendition of the Hanukkah song,"8 Candles." Guitarist Jacobs and bassist Berry assisted on this selection. This excellent Holiday Concert was concluded appropriately with Koz leading on "Chicago Song."
In addition to performances by the "stars" special mention must be given to Koz's band consisting of bassist Andre Berry, guitarist Randy Jacobs, drummer Jay Williams and musical director/keyboardist Brian Simpson a native of near by Gurnee. These outstanding musicians were on point all night long and often showcased their skills while sharing the stage with Koz.